Growing up Katy Drucker has always had a love affair with Africa. In 2010, she decided it was time to pursue her passion for travel and photography.
The New Trier alum spent three-years of savings to fund her 11-month travel across Africa and Asia.
“I thought if I don’t do it now, I won’t be able to do it again,” Drucker said. “The whole year was supposed to be solely in Africa, but there was political turmoil in western Africa so I headed back to India, where I had been before.”
Saturday, the 30-year-old Wilmette-based photographer will be exhibiting images from her travels at Winnetka Community House. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Antardristi Safe House in Nepal, which provides shelter and schooling for female sexual abuse victims.
“I choose Antardristi because I feel like they are helping girls get stronger and recognize that it’s not their fault, that they can go on in life and be successful,” said Drucker, who volunteered at the safe house.
Drucker says in Nepal people tend to blame the women for the abuse and she wanted to help the organization, which has had to close two safe houses due to lack of funding.
“I think girls are so undervalued around many of the countries I went to, but definitely in Nepal. They are really fighting for themselves and fighting against a society that shuns them, or almost blames them for the abuse,” Drucker said.
About 100 photos out of the 40,000 Drucker took during her time abroad will be showcased at the exhibition titled, “Presence.” Some photos taken by the girls from the safe house will also be on display.
Favorite Spots: Nepal, South Africa
During Drucker’s travel, she visited four countries in Asia (India, Nepal, Thailand and Bhutan) and 15 countries in Africa (Malawi, South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Swaziland, Lesotho, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Morocco, Ghana and Rwanda).
Out of the 19 countries, Drucker says her favorites were Nepal and South Africa, where she was able to spend about two months in each place.
“We got to spend time with the locals and got to appreciate their way of life,” Drucker said of her stay in South Africa. “The length of the trip really helped me get to know them.”
Her other favorite memory was spending about three weeks volunteering at the safe house in Nepal.
“I lived with (the girls), prayed with them and didn’t have a moment of peace,” Drucker said. “But I absolutely loved Nepal.”
Keeping Positive During Tough Times
At times Drucker said it was tough to keep a positive energy during the volunteer projects but she always found a way to make people laugh.
“By the last orphanage, I was losing it and it was really tough to keep that positive energy going, but you take your cue from them,” Drucker said. “They way they persevere and continue to smile over things that we, as Westerners would absolutely loose our minds over, that’s what keeps you going. If they can do it then I can do it and I need to be strong for them.”
The 30-year-old says the year away helped her realize how she wants to be as a photographer and traveler.
“I’m so conscious of cultural boundaries and my own relationships with people that I don’t like being that tourist who is directly up in people’s faces,” Drucker said.
The world-traveler will be sharing moments that she captured during her journeys Saturday at 6 p.m.
“I hope (people) feel something with some images,” Drucker said. “Even if it’s just seeing a different perspective or recognizing beauty in a country that they didn’t know where it was, or being able to see the difference in faces from Rwanda to Ghana.”